Hunter Owens

Earlier Internships

24 Sep 2013

###Or,The End of Summer

I was grabbing lunch with a friend, a rising 2nd year at UChicago in mid september, and heard the craziest thing. Three weeks before he was set to start school, he had already applied for at least three summer internships for the next summer. Mind you, the time he spends as an intern is more than doubled by the lead time that these applications have required.

This is not exactly an unheard of anecdote among my friends. Nowadays, you are expected to apply for internships far before the start date. In fact, as of August 27th, Google had posted their application for 2014 Summer Interns on the UofC CS Job Board. This is before their current crop had left the googolplex. Facebook was not far behind, posting their application two days later.

This pales, I’ve heard, in comparison to Finance, where you often here of students attempting/planning to get internships a full two years ahead of their start date.

Why does this happen? Or at least, why do students feel like the internship rat race keepings moving closer and closer to the dog days of summer, rather fall, or god forbid winter/spring, before the student is hired.

From a student perspective, competition strikes me as the primary motive. Peer pressure drives students to find summer plans earlier and earlier. Imagine, for a moment, you are a student at a large, so called ‘tier 1’ institution. You’re now sitting next to hundreds, if not thousands of students who want the same thing you do. You’re pressured do ‘find a plan’ and nail down that great summer internship that will lead to a job.

From an employee perspective, its all about talent access. If students start asking for earlier internships, and they’re qualified, why not take them in? Large organizations, especially, need not worry about excess [labor][3], and the idea is to access the best people possible and having an application due in September gives them an edge (first look) over those companies who have applications due in [November][4]. Companies want the best talent, if getting it in September secures it for them, its worth it.

So, the simple logic dictates, thats without some system to push applications later and later (i.e., how an implicit bargain/norm between colleges keeps almost all college applications due in Senior year of high school, right around Jan 1.), we are going to see earlier and earlier internship applications. However, what does this do the process of college? It means that students will spend much of their time career focused, from when they step foot on campus in the fall to they departure in the summer. That however, is a large questions than scoped in this post.

[3]: “Large organizations often have extra capacity- giving them the ability to hire without knowing the precise task of the hire. If not, they can always rubber room the intern. “ [4]: “Or march.”